A hanging basket isn’t just for summer you know! If you can bring yourself to pull out the last of those summer annuals that are past their best now and clinging on until the first heavy frost, you can transform them to wonderful winter hanging baskets.
Swap your summer and autumn blooms for flowers that can last through winter and maybe even spring too.
An important thing to remember when planting hanging baskets for winter is that, unlike their summer cousins, these ones need to be full from the very start as they’re unlikely to grow much before spring.
The great news about this is that you can choose evergreen and perennial plants that will live on way past spring especially if planted in your garden after emptying the basket in readiness for summer’s explosion of colour.
So, although they may cost more than summer annuals, they’re actually much better value as you could have them for years to come.
What to do
Planting a winter hanging basket follows the same principles as a summer one:
- choose a strong structural looking plant or plants for the centre,
- fill the middle with shorter evergreen plants
- place trailing plants at the front to hide the basket
- finish the arrangement with small to medium size, colourful plants that flower over a long period
Here are examples of successful winter combinations:
Variegated trailing ivies
Violas or pansies (for part shade)
Skimmia ‘Kew Green’ (other varieties prefer part shade)
Dark green trailing ivies
Deep red or white flower polyanthus
Heathers that grow well in alkaline compost such as Darleyensis and Carnea
Things to watch out for
Don’t be tempted to keep the same compost in the basket that’s been there since the spring or summer. It will have run out of nutrients and may also be harbouring diseases or the dreaded vine weevil grubs that will silently chomp on plant roots without you noticing, gradually killing the plants.
If you normally have your summer hanging baskets in a sunny position, make sure the evergreen plants you choose are not shade lovers as they’ll soon start to look unhappy and may develop scorched or sick looking leaves.
Choose plants that like or tolerate the same soil conditions, i.e. all alkaline or all acid loving plants.
Even though it’s winter, the plants will still need watering especially if hanging in an exposed position. Keep the compost moist but not soggy.
If using a standard wire basket that needs a liner save money and get a more natural look by lining it with moss scraped up from your lawn!
Include bulbs in your basket to bring you a surprise burst of flowers the following year. Snowdrops and colourful Iris reticulata for February March and tulips and daffodils in early spring.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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